Dandelyan bar is one of the two bars in the Mondrian hotel on the Southbank in London. After a recent visit to the one of the top floor, the Rumpus Room, we knew we were going to have to try the Dandelyan. After all, all the staff at the Rumpus Room kept mentioning it, like they were stuck in the Dandelyan’s shadow or something. Also, the Dandelyan has won numerous awards; best new international cocktail bar in 2015 and best cocktail menu in 2016. Clearly something vaguely special was going on in the downstairs of the Mondrian.
I booked an early table on a Saturday to visit. They do a cocktail afternoon tea, but I didn’t feel like being that fancy on my visit. Initially, on being shown to our table for the evening, I did feel a little flat. While the Rumpus Room has a balcony overlooking the Thames with pretty perfect views of St Pauls and the rest of London, our seat at the Dandelyan was next to a window right on the path of the Southbank. I felt a teeny bit like a zoo animal, stuck in a cage while thousands of tourists streamed past on their Saturday walk down the Southbank.
However, the interior did perk me up a little. It’s pretty awesome if I’m honest. I hate to use the phrase, but it really is instagrammable. If I ever wrote a book on “bars I wish were my living room” this would be right up there, alongside Clerkenwell Grind. There’s dark green paint with pink banquettes. Gold finishes and ceilings. I really loved it. I wanted to swatch the dark green walls and hop off to B&Q so I can paint my flat with it.
It’s best to get this out the way first: the drinks are expensive. There’s no getting around it. They clock in at around £13 each. Can you find cheaper bars than this in London? Definitely. Having said that, it’s obvious a lot of time and effort has gone into making this cocktail menu. There is no ice and there are no perishables. I felt a teeny bit lost working out what the hell was in some of these drinks. One of our drinks had nixtamalized blue corn in it. I still to this day have absolutely no idea what that is.
I tried two cocktails. The first was The Westwood, marketed as an “uplifting pick me up”. I won’t lie, I bought it because it referenced Vivienne Westwood in the description and I am a big sucker for that kinda thing.
The second cocktail was an Oak Island Old Fashioned, this time marketed as a boozy sipper.
Both were excellently presented and completely different from what you’d get in other cocktail bars in London. It’s nice to go somewhere which has such a unique take on things. The menu was extremely well thought out and at one point basically involved a graph.
Maybe I got my hopes up…
It’s hard not to when this bar has won so many awards. But it felt lacking to me. I liked the cocktails and all things considered, they’re worth their hefty price tag. A lot of thought has gone into them. They’re not your usual standard of cocktails and you won’t find any of the normal classics here. There’s something to be said for a bar that goes it’s own way on things and tries something a little different.
But, the service was a little lacking and the views weren’t that special. Maybe it’s unfair to compare it to the Rumpus Room, but it’s hard not to when it’s literally just upstairs. Upstairs feels slightly less pretentious, had a much better atmosphere and much better views.
Overall, I found the whole experience lacking. I doubt I’ll be back anytime soon.